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Aarhus Protocol on heavy metals

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Title: The 1998 Aarhus Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Heavy Metals

1 .Issued by / date / date of implementation

United Nations / 1998 / entered into force December 2003

2. Type of legislation

International protocol to be implemented by all ratifying Parties.

3. General purpose

The objective of the Protocol is to control emissions of heavy metals caused by anthropogenic activities that are subject to long-range transboundary atmospheric transport and are likely to have significant adverse effects on human or environment. It targets three particularly harmful metals: cadmium, lead and mercury.

4. Substitution relevant paragraphs

Article 5 states that Parties may take measures to phase out certain heavy metal emitting processes where substitute processes are available on an industrial scale.

According to Article 6-Research Parties shall encourage research to find alternatives to the use of heavy metals in products, primarily focusing on the heavy metals listed in annex I (cadmium, lead and mercury), and products in annexes VI (petrol for on-road vehicle, batteries, button cells) and VII (seven types of mercury containing products : electrical components, measuring devices, fluorescent lamps, dental amalgam, paints, pesticides, measurement devices).

ANNEX III is dedicated to best available techniques for controlling emissions of heavy metals and their compounds. Substitution is presented as primary measure.

ANNEX VII presents product management measures: The annex mentions the substitution of products containing one or more intentionally added heavy metals listed in annex I ( cadmium, lead, mercury), if a suitable alternative exists. It also mentions the minimization or substitution of these metals in products. The use of economic incentives or voluntary agreements to reduce or eliminate the content in products of the heavy metals listed in annex I is recommended.

5. Assessment of relevance for substitution

The protocol considers substitution as a primary measure to achieve its goals and targets. Parties should encourage research and cooperation to develop safer alternatives to heavy metals listed in the Protocol’s annexes.

6. Link to the legal text

7. Further information

7.1. Other relevant legislation

  • 1979 Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) can be found here.
  • Health risks of heavy metals from long-range transboundary air pollution: archived copy or original document.

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Last update: 21.02.2010

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